Part and parcel to the group Labyrinth, as well as the Labyrinth Musical Project, member of the Ross Daly Quartet and the Tokso Folk String Quartet, Greek musician and composer Kelly Thoma has added a new recording to her two previous solo works Anamkhara and 7Fish. Music fans looking to dip into the riches of Greece will revel in the musical landscape of As The Winds Die Down.
In addition to composing the
music for As The Winds Die Down, Ms. Thoma regales listeners with her
incomparable lyra playing. Joined by singer Vassilis Stavrakakis, lauto player
and singer Giorgis Manolakis, percussionist Giannis Papatzanis and
percussionist, saz and tarhu player Ross Daly, Ms. Thoma conjures up a vibrant
The music of As The Winds
Die Down is tapestry of elegant lyra lines, rich percussion and dazzling runs
of lauto. Alive with dizzily swirling tracks like opening track “As The Winds
Die Down,” “Kotylies of Armanogeia” and “Madness and Reason” with slower
elegant tracks like “Rain,” “The Tree’s Song” and “Your Dark Side” As The Winds
Die Down shimmers and glows with talents of these musicians.
As The Winds Die Down is equal parts electrifying and poignant. The only unfortunate aspect is that some naughty person provided no translations of the song lyrics other than just the titles. Certainly, there must be some kind of story behind a track titled “Madness and Reason” or “Your Dark Side.” Without a press release or any sort of explanation why this music is meaningful or what the songs are about I’m afraid As The Winds Die Down tells only half the story in its current form.
Kelly Thoma, one of the finest performers of the Cretan lyra has a new album titled Ama kopasoun oi kairoi (As the winds die down).
Ama kopasoun oi kairoi includes original songs by Kelly Thoma featuring two of Crete’s most renowned singers, Vassilis Stavrakakis and Giorgis Manolakis. Lyrics by Mitsos Stavarkakis, Giorgos Dagalakis, Nikolaos Andreadakis and Kelly Thoma.
The musicians on the album include on Κelly Thoma on lyra, percussion; Vassilis Stavrakakis on vocals; Giorgis Manolakis on lauto, vocals; Giannis Papatzanis on percussion; Ross Daly on saz, percussion, tarhu.
Canadian artist George Sapounidis, better known as Chairman George, has a new album titled Bringing to Greek Party to China! It’s a ground-breaking recording that combines traditional Greek and Chinese music, Mandarin Chinese vocals, rock and infectious electronic dance grooves.
In terms of musical instruments, Bringing to Greek Party to China! connects Greek bouzouki and Chinese pipa and guzheng. The music video for the irresistible song “Golden Night” is fascinating and a lot of fun to watch.
Chairman George talked to World Music Central in September 2018 about his background and Bringing to Greek Party to China.
Can you give our readers a brief history on how you started singing and composing music?
I began taking guitar lessons in Montreal in 1968 and learning folksongs by different artists from the Joan Baez Songbook. Then when we moved to Greece in 1970 my mother found me a classical guitar teacher in Athens (a Greek protégé of the Spanish virtuoso Andrés Segovia no less) and in my teens I continued to take lessons and perform classical repertoire. At the same time since we were living a bohemian lifestyle in Greece I was meeting troubadours and buskers on the Greek islands which further inspired me to sing and perform publicly.
In university in Montreal and later in Toronto I met singers from different cultures so I began singing in Hebrew, Russian and Spanish. I took a delight in singing multilingually. In the 1980’s when the famine in Ethiopia happened I wrote a song and discovered a joy and ability in songwriting.
In 1988 I began learning the Greek bouzouki after listening and feeling impassioned by the Greek blues the Rembetika. I travelled to Greece with a musical partner and we started my first band Ouzo Power which performed at Canadian music festivals.
In the 1990’s, after finishing my PhD in statistics in Toronto and working as a folksinger extensively in Greektown, I returned to Ottawa where I had a day job in the federal government and I met a woman from Beijing who inspired me to learn to sing a traditional folksong in Mandarin Chinese. This was followed by challenging myself to write songs in Chinese. This is when my music career took a radical new direction towards Asia.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
The essential elements of my music consist of sung vocals in different languages, translation of lyrics, and proficiency on the Greek bouzouki and acoustic guitar. This includes the incorporation of an eclectic array of cross cultural musical styles. I engage audiences on stage using humor while unraveling some of the mysteries of Greek and Chinese culture and language through music.
Whom can you cite as your main musical influences?
Theodore Bikel, David Wilcox, Danny Michel.
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
My first full album on cassette consisted of duo interpretations of Greek Rembetika with the use of mandolin instead of bouzouki and translating Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin into Greek. The second EP consisted of standard Greek popular repertoire using larger ensembles incorporating African Senegalese rhythms. I then began dabbling in different languages and made a demo recording of songs in Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese and Greek.
When I performed my first Chinese song at the local Chinese New Year Gala in 1998 the roof fell in when the audience was applauding every 15 seconds. I realized I had discovered a vast new audience, endless musical possibilities within a new culture and my innate facility with languages.
In 2000, I gave my first major concert in Greek and Chinese in Ottawa where I invited the Greek and Chinese Embassies. Subsequently, I received an invitation from the Chinese Embassy to travel to China to perform at two international festivals. It was at this point that my music career took a radical new direction towards Asia.
My 2005 album consisted of exclusively Greek and Chinese traditional, popular and original material followed by my 2008 album of Olympic themed songs and then my 2011 CD of experimental rock-infused Greek repertoire. The culmination of my Greek and Chinese influenced musical arc has culminated in the present album where we have fused both cultures by presenting re- worked standard Greek repertoire in Mandarin.
What musical instruments do you use?
I use the Greek bouzouki and acoustic guitar myself. In my band we also have Chinese pipa and guzheng as well as bass, electric guitar, drums and backup vocals.
Your new album features Chinese musicians, electronic dance music beats, Chinese vocals and Greek influences. How did you come up with this combination?
After many years performing Greek and Chinese repertoire side by side my producer Ross Murray and I decided in 2013 to go to the next step: a fusion of both. This had never been done. We chose 10 of the most well-known quintessential up tempo Greek popular songs with the intent of presenting Greek party songs to Chinese audiences, hence the album title.
I started translating these songs into Mandarin with the help of a translator while at the same time ensuring equal numbers of syllables in lines and incorporating rhyming. I developed bilingual vocals for these translated lyrics. We brought in Chinese instrumentalists we knew locally and my producer who is a recording engineer infused some of the renditions with electronic dance music beats.
What has been the reaction so far?
Chinese audiences in China are very surprised and interested in hearing Greek songs in Chinese. Greek people are astonished at hearing their own songs recreated in what seems to them to be an incomprehensible language. Greeks are proud to know that their music is being promoted in a vast new environment.
How did you meet the Chinese musicians?
I met the Chinese musicians in my home town of Ottawa, Canada. I already knew them well after years of performing in the local Chinese community.
You sing in Chinese, is it Mandarin? Do you speak Chinese or is it phonetic singing?
Yes I sing in Mandarin Chinese. I speak in Mandarin Chinese and comprehend fully all lyrics that I sing.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
I would like to collaborate with English rock musician Peter Gabriel whom I have not met – however, more realistically I would like to collaborate with English rock musician and multi Grammy award winner Chris Birkett whom I have met.
What would the ideal Sunday look like?
Being on a quiet Greek island having a good swim in the sun all day with friends followed by Greek dinner in a taverna while listening to live Greek music performed by local musicians.
What would you like to learn?
I would like to learn how to cook properly in a Cordon Bleu school.
What is your favorite food?
Greek cuisine followed by Thai cuisine.
Favorite movie or movie genre?
If you weren’t a musician, what would you have become?
I would become what I in fact I already am: a mathematician with a PhD.
Your greatest triumph?
Being the subject of the award-winning W5 CTV / BBC international television documentary ‘Chairman George’ produced by EyeSteelFilm in Canada and directed by Daniel Cross a fellow Montrealer whom I met by chance on the other side of the world in China.
What do you like to do during your free time?
Swim laps and then meet friends for a home cooked meal.
What country would you like to visit?
Do you have any other upcoming projects to share with us?
We are creating new interpretations of Canadian popular and traditional repertoire in Chinese.
George From Athens To Beijing (2005)
Expect The World (2008)
Ouzo Power Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (2010)
Golden Night (2014)
Bringing to Greek Party to China! (2018)
A journey during which the rich eastern Mediterranean traditions and western music elements blend and compose colorful soundscapes using music as their common language. The ensemble creates and performs music with respect to the character of the modal music cultures.
In 2015 Lingua Franca Ensemble was selected among several ensembles from all corners of the world, to participate in the Sharq Taronalari festival/contest held in Uzbekistan, representing Cyprus, Greece and Germany. The committee of the competition awarded Lingua Franca Ensemble with the Soul of Devotees Special Award.
In May 2016 Lingua Franca Ensemble was invited by TedX University of Piraeus (Athens, Greece) in order to present the idea behind the formation of the ensemble as well as to perform live part of the album Ephemera.
Lingua Franca Ensemble is actively involved in music education. Both as an ensemble and as individuals, they conduct workshops and seminars on their field of expertise. All the members of the ensemble are graduates of the Codarts University of the Arts, Rotterdam.
Michalis Cholevas and Michalis Kouloumis are regular teachers of the World Music Department of CODARTS, having as main subject Modal Music of the Eastern Mediterranean cultures.
The album Ephemera is a collection of original compositions that came to life when Giannis, Michalis and Michalis met in Cyprus and formed the Lingua Franca Ensemble. Ruven joined soon after.
The 2018 lineup: Michalis Cholevas on yayli tanbur, tarhu, ney; Michalis Kouloumis on violin; Giannis Koutis on oud, guitar, voice; and Ruven Ruppik on riq, darbuka, frame drums, marimba.
Loxandra Ensemble, one of the finest world music acts from the eastern Mediterranean, has released a flavorful album titled In Transition. The Greek band delivers a superb mix of traditional Greek music, Turkish influences, Gypsy swing, Sephardic, salsa, Middle Eastern and Balkan sounds.
The band features an outstanding, delightful vocalist Ria Ellinidou and world class musicians who use a wide range of musical instruments from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond.
Loxandra Ensemble includes new members. The album lineup includes Nikos Angousis on clarinet and vocals; Foibos Apostolidis on riqq, cajon, darbuka and davul; Makis Baklatzis on violin, lead and backing vocals; Ria Ellinidou on lead vocals; Thanasis Koulentianos on kanun and backing vocals; Loukas Metaxas on acoustic and electric bass and backing vocals; Dimitris Panagoulias on darbuka and riqq; and Kyriakos Tapakis on oud.
In Transition is a beautifully-crafted album that illustrates the fascinating multiple musical influences that meet and combine in the eastern Mediterranean.
Greek composer, guitarist and musicologist Vassilis Ketentzoglou was born in 1979 in Athens and grew up in Rhodes island. He is formally a classical-trained classical guitarist and composer and holds a BMus from Royal Holloway, University of London, a MMus in Composition for Screen from the Royal College of Music (London) and several other degrees of music from the Hellenic Conservatory, Athens. In parallel to his classical studies, Vassilis has always been interested in other types of music; mainly, traditional music from the Middle East and the Balkans, jazz, flamenco and Latin American.
Vassilis’ main instrument is the classical guitar (which he plays in his own “ethnic” way, incorporating sounds and techniques from the flamenco guitar and the ud) and a currently not-so-well-known “new” instrument, the fretless guitar. He plays various other Greek and Middle-Eastern string instruments as well and enjoys improvising very much.
His compositions encompass many different styles – from orchestral music to Greek and Spanish songs, and from microtonal Middle-Eastern melodies on various “exotic” odd-time signatures to ethnic jazz fusion pieces. His music has been awarded in various composition competitions in Greece. Apart from composing his own music, Vassilis enjoys re-arranging and re-harmonizing various traditional and folk Greek songs.
Currently, he works as a guitarist accompanying various well-known Greek singers in concerts.
Takis Barberis Takis Barberis was born in Athens in 1963. His relationship with music began at the age of 10. He studied at the National Conservatory of Greece, classic guitar with Dimitris Fampas and higher theory with Yiannis Avgerinos, and received the Harmony certificate. Simultaneously he played electric guitar in many rock groups. In 1979 he began his interest in jazz that determined his later course. During this period he collaborated with many significant musicians as G. Trantalidis, N. Touliatos, P. Gekas and An. Georgiou.
In 1982 he presented his first compositions with the band Jazz Fusion Quintet. It is then that his cooperation with David Lynch and Takis Farazis began, continuing later in the group Iskra (1985), with G. Fakanas, N. Touliatos and L. Pliatsikas. From then he begins also his collaboration with D. Lynch and T. Farazis that would be continued and later, in the group Iskra (1985), with G. Fakanas, N. Touliatos and L. Pliatsikas. Iskra was one of the most famous and progressive groups of this period. In 1986 Iskra released their first album, ? New Day (Polygram), that includes two of his compositions.
At the period 1987 – 1989 he formed the group Model 63 with P. Hatzigiankos and K. Kalogirou in a more experimental approach of rock music with Greek lyrics, and they released the album “Model 63” (Lyra 1988).
In 1990, his first solo album was released, Something From July (Lyra, 1990), with his compositions from the 80’s, with lots of jazz, rock and Latin influences, and with the participation of T. Farazis, G. Kontrafouris, T. Paterelis and K. Kalogirou. Episodes (Lyra, 1995) is his next album with the internationally known Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu and the traditional Greek musician Petroloukas Halkias on the clarinet, and with eight very famous Greek musicians (P. Benetatos, G. Kontrafouris, T. Paterelis, Y. Kiourtsoglou, G. Vassalos, K. Kalogirou, T. Farazis & P. Kourtis). The Greek critics characterized the album as one of the most successful combinations of jazz and traditional elements (Greek and Indian music).
At his next album, Naiva (Lyra, 1998), Barberis continues and evolves the influences that were first seen in the album Episodes (with the participations of Petroloukas Halkias, Reshma Srivastava and Shankar Lal, from India).
Porto Kayio (Libra Music, 2004) featured Debashish and Subhasis Bhattacharya (from India). In Porto Kayio Barberis makes a soundtrack with voices, sounds and rhythms. Each piece is a musical homeland: Greece, India, East, Africa and once again back to his land.
Barberis has collaborated with Trilok Gurtu, Glenn Corneille and nearly all Greek musicians in the Jazz scene, and has taken part in a lot of live performances in Greece and abroad.
Since 1981 Barberis has been teaching modern guitar and improvisation in many Conservatories (National Conservatory of Patras, Pindareio, Raimondi Conservatory, R.S.I.).
Composer, luthier and multi-instrumentalist Stelios Petrakis was born in 1975 and raised in Sitia, Crete. In 1983 he started lyra lessons in the Music School of Sitia with Yannis Dandolos (1983), Ross Daly (1984) and Helen Drettakis (1985-1993) under the supervision of Kostas Mountakis. He completed his studies in lyra in 1993.
In 1993, he moved to Athens where he continued his studies in lyra under the guidance of Ross Daly and started studying relevant musical traditions (popular music of Anatolia, cosmic music and religious music of Constantinople, Greek traditional music) and instruments (saz, Constantinople and Cretan lute, bulgari, Constantinople lyra). In 1999 and 2000, he attended seminars of saz in the Labyrinth Musical Workshop with the master musician Talip Ozkan.
In the Labyrinth Musical Workshop, which has been rehoused to Houdetsi, Herakleion, he attended, during the summer of 2003, a series of seminars from master musicians with broad knowledge on the instruments and the musical traditions of the East. Stelios Petrakis has collaborated with many important musicians in the world music scene (Ross Daly, Bijan Chemirani, Patrick Vaillant, Dupain, Kristi Stasinopoulou), various Cretan musicians (George Xylouris, Vassilis Stavrakakis, Zacharias Spyridakis, Michalis and Mitsos Stavrakakis, Chainides, etc.) as well as with other Greek musicians and composers (Christos Leondis, Stamatis Spanoudakis, Achilleas Persides, George Makris etc.) in concerts and recordings in Greece and abroad.
For many years he has been one of the basic members of the “Labyrinth” group, under the direction of Ross Daly, with which he has performed in numerous concerts some of which took place at Europe’s most significant venues (Theatre de la ville – Paris, Queen Elizabeth Hall – London, Cemal Resit Rey konser salonu – Istanbul, Herodeon Theatre – Athens, Megaron Mousikis Thessalonikis). In these concerts he found himself collaborating with some of the most exceptional musicians of various traditions (Trio Chemirani, Huun Huur Tu, Mehmet Erenler, Hossein Arman, Khaled Arman, Sokratis Sinopoulos, Rufus Capadoccia, Linsey Pollak, Tunji Beier, Hammid Khabazzi, Georgi Petrov, Pedram Khavar Zamini).
He has released several albums, recorded in his own personal recording studio, for both of which he has received exceptional reviews and awards from the Greek and the international press. He has performed his work in concerts in Greece (Crete, Athens) and in Europe (France, Germany and Spain). He has participated in recordings of other musicians’ works and groups such as in Ross Daly’s, Bijan Chemirani’s, Dupain’s, Christos Leondis’ etc. He is a maker of traditional instruments such as lyra, lauto and saz. He is also a graduate of the Law Department of the Athens Law School.
Michalis Nikoloudis plays mandola, baroque lute, guitar and mandolin. He participated in recordings and “live” concerts with the association of leading composers and singers in Greece as well as abroad.
Inspired by the sounds of the West the East, he composed Aeolia (Libra Music LM001, 1995), his first album, that encloses the sounds and the aromas of the Mediterranean.
His second album titled Chrismos (oracle) was released in 1997, an inspired music that composes sounds from the past and the future of Greek music (Libra Music LM006).
Melissokipos (bees-garden) was released in 1997. It is an album with songs, in lyrics written by Elias Katsoulis and with Sofia Tserou as a singer (Libra Music, LM009).
The CD single Terra Musica (FM Records, 1998), contains three of his compositions Three Faces, Three Aspects.
Under the title Gaia (1998), he revised eleven poems, creating a new sound and harmony, moving independently but at the same time and in parallel manner with Yiota Vei’s single voice (Libra Music LM015).
1922 from Asia to Europe (FM Records, 1999), is the title of the album with the participation of “aeolia strings orchestra”, following people, in the adventure of escape and their coming in new countries.
Deja Vu was released on December 2001 by Sony Classical.
Gyro Mou Ki Entos (Inside And Around Me) was released in 2003.
Women (Libra Music LM041, 2006) features vocals by Sotiria Leonardou, Foteini Velesiotou and lyrics by Magda Papadaki.
Aeolia – Αιολία (Libra Music LM001, 1995)
Chrismos – oracle (Libra Music LM006, 1997)
Gaia (Libra Music LM015, 1998) 1922 from Asia to Europe (FM Records, 1999)
Deja Vu (Sony Classical, 2001)
Gyro Mou Ki Entos – Inside And Around Me (2003)
Women (Libra Music LM041, 2006) Aeolia 2 (Polymusic, 2008)
Maria Farandouri (Μαρία Φαραντούρη), also known as Maria Farantouri, was born November 28, 1947 in Athens, Greece. She grew up at the time when Greece was trying to recover from the 2nd World War and the German occupation. Maria left Greece during the period of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. She joined the struggle against the dictatorship by giving thousands of concerts all over the world and in some of the largest concert halls. She became the Greek people’s symbol of resistance and hope. Maria participated in many festivals for disarmament, peace and against any social oppression singing together with other famous singers as Myriam Makeba, Juliette Greco, Maria del Mar Bonet and the Chilean group Inti Illimani.
Maria kept Mikis Theodorakis’ music alive, when it was banned from Greece, playing an important role in the movement for the revival of the Greek music. She is well known as the ideal and most authentic performer of Mikis Theodorakis’ works. Her rich contralto voice with its broad range and melodic quality combined with a fine instinct are the main features of her art.
Her expressive voice as well as the high quality of her repertory valued her outstanding reviews everywhere. Some of her major interpretations of Mikis Theodorakis are: “ Maria also performed songs by the famous Greek composer Manos Hadzidakis.
Her albums “Poetica” (Peregrina, 1996) and “Asmata” (Peregrina 1998) featured works by Mikis Theodorakis and “Triti Porta” (Minos EMI 2000) contained songs by Lena Platonos.
Aside from her artistic activities, Maria Farandouri has been a member of the Greek Parliament during the years of 1989 – 1993.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion